The Deaf American prisoner Felix Garcia, who has been in prison for over 30 years, has been told his earliest date of parole will not be until 2025, after his case was heard in an Offender Review hearing yesterday.
In a surprising twist, his brother appeared at the hearing to say that Felix was guilty of the crime – even though he didn’t witness it. According to the Mail online, Mike Garcia said:
“You know your family members — when they’re telling the truth and when they’re not telling you the truth,” Mike Garcia said. “People can bull crap, I understand that. People are con artists, I understand that. I know my brother Frank. I know my brother Felix. I know Francisco Garcia did not pull that trigger.”
A commission member asked if that meant Felix participated. “Yes. Yes, they were both there at that time,” Mike Garcia answered.
After the hearing, he told reporters that he believed Felix is the person who killed Joseph Tramontana Jr.
“That’s what I’ve heard over the years. I wasn’t there,” he said. “I know my brothers, and that’s it. “
Garcia’s lawyers say that he has two witnesses placing him six miles away from the motel where the murder happened.
Last year, a three-part documentary aired on Al Jazeera America’s flagship America Tonight programme called Deaf in Prison, which focused on Felix Garcia’s case and his treatment while in prison.
Garcia was imprisoned in 1983 for a crime his brother Frank Garcia has since confessed to (although that confession was later retracted). His story became more widely known following an article by investigative journalist James Ridgeway for America’s Mother Jones magazine.
In the article, Ridgeway uncovered how little Garcia understood of the original court case which determined his fate.
Ridgeway wrote that Garcia:
Was given a hearing aid, which he said didn’t work, and a loudspeaker, which amplified noise but didn’t help him understand what people were saying. He tried to read lips, but the prosecutor often faced away from him, and he had no clear view of the witness box.
In other words, he was largely clueless as to what was going on.
Garcia told the paralegal called Pat Bliss – who has supported his case since 1996 – that the reason he answered “yes” to so many questions in court was because he didn’t want to look stupid.
It is suggested in Ridgeway’s article that Garcia’s brother made a deal with the authorities in order to avoid the death penalty.
Read James Ridgeway’s Mother Jones article by clicking here.
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